US Insights

The uninsured are getting insurance. Will they use it?

Patricia Ensor

Senior Advisor

Public Affairs Policy 02.05.2014 / 15:50

heart monitor

Despite the ACA, patients’ views may limit their use of healthcare

One concern about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that it may cause an influx of unhealthy patients into the healthcare market, overwhelming an already taxed system. As I noted in a previous piece, the formerly uninsured population is generally younger and physically healthier than the insured population. The vast majority have no significant diseases. So how will their attitudes about being healthy affect their use of healthcare resources once they are insured?

Using  our proprietary patient research of 50,000 individuals to examine the US uninsured population, we found that while this population is generally healthier, physically, than the insured population, when it comes to mental health, including such functions as vitality, social health and emotional health, they score far lower than insured patients do. This disparity may have implications for the types of health services that newly insured patients will seek.

Key Numbers

  • 32% of the uninsured believe that having regular contact with their doctor is the best way to avoid illness

The uninsured population may appear to be healthier than the insured today, but they also seem to have less interest in leading healthy lifestyles. For example, the insured population works out more often than the uninsured, while those without insurance are much more likely to smoke cigarettes.

Traditionally, members of the uninsured group have turned to self-treatment, with 44% saying they prefer to treat themselves with an over-the-counter medicine rather than get a prescription from a physician (versus 34% of the insured population).

At first glance, you might think they embrace self-treatment because their lack of insurance means they wouldn't seek help from a traditional healthcare professional. However, our data imply that these behaviors also can be attributed to their attitudes. For example, only 32% of the uninsured group believes that having regular contact with their physician is the best way to avoid illness, compared with fully half of the insured group.

How the newly insured population behave after their coverage begins will be interesting to see. While they may embrace healthier lifestyles once they have more regular access to doctors, their attitudes seem to suggest they have little interest in using more traditional healthcare resources.

For more insights into the uninsured populations in the United States, download our infographic below.

Source: Kantar Health


Editor's Notes

For inquiries about these data, contact us.

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